A hoard of Nazi artefacts, including cigarettes, condoms, encoded messages and even the only known copy of a memo announcing the death of Adolph Hitler, has been uncovered on a U-boat almost 80-years after it was sunk.
U-boat 534 was sunk by the RAF off coast of a Danish island on Saturday 5 May 1945, but in was raised from the seabed in 1993, after which its contents were conserved and kept strictly under wraps - until now.
The U-boat, which forms part of a display at The U-Boat Story run by Big Heritage, was found to have a hoard of long-forgotten items, including a rare enigma machine and even condoms.
Speaking about the impressive haul, founder of Big Heritage, Dean Paton, said: “The things we’ve found go from secret documents to personal letters. One was complaining about the cows on their farm not giving them enough milk.
“We’re finding photographs and cards with peoples’ names on them which we can trace. It’s really interesting.
"When they raised the U-boat in the early Nineties the Danish team rapidly conserved and saved anything they could without then going through box by box to see what it was. They just kept it safe and stabilised.
“Those boxes have been passed on and they’ve not been looked at, not been opened. Things we’ve found include what was once considered tens of thousands of reams of paper that was first assumed to be blank but is actually just very faded.
“So there’s all sorts of new documents now just being seen for the first time since the 40s - from some quite mundane shopping lists and letters to some quite serious stuff like enigma decoded messages informing the crew of their new führer - which, between the lines, means Hitler’s dead and they’ve now got a new boss.
“It’s the only known paper copy of that dispatch in the world.”
Although the boat was sunk in the Baltic Sea, onboard historians found items more suited for tropical climates as well as guides to South America.
Paton added: “We think that there was probably an intention to take some of this brand new, high tech military equipment somewhere else.
“That could’ve been to Argentina. It had the range to get to Argentina and that is where a lot of senior Nazis disappeared to after the war, or it could’ve even been intended to go to America - which offered some sort of safe harbour if you brought technology that they could take, or even Japan.
“The interesting thing will be to piece this together over the next few years as more information comes to light. It’s not just about the artefacts its about the story behind it that we’re really piecing together for the first time.”
Featured Image Credit: Liverpool Echo
Topics: World War 2, UK News